Market leader Airtel has admitted that space exists for price drops, but is clearly worried about escalating a price war with Jio.
In a clear indication that a calibrated response was all that Airtel was counting on, Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, India and South Asia has spoken about the possibility of prices 'softening', but ruled out a free call regime in the future to PTI.
Airtel has so far surprised analysts, and perhaps, its million of subscribers, by not making any significant effort to match Jio's introductory rates, perhaps seeing the futility of matching something priced at zero.
More significantly, the response, along with its submission to the telecom regulator about providing more interconnect points than at any time before after Jio's entry, make it clear that the incumbent would rather ride out the free period till Dec 31st, and then buckle down to a formal war of attrition with Jio. So clearly, it does seem to be in the interest of all the incumbents to see Jio's free period end on Dec 31stor earlier, instead of getting extended due to a 'less than optimum' experience, as some Jio executives have spoken about.
To be sure, Airtel has not exactly been sitting tight. While it announced price cuts on data for its prepaid subscribers last month, in the past week or more, it has also quietly rolled out special data packages or top-ups for select postpaid subscribers. Starting at Rs 100 for 2 GB extra data and up proportionately, depending on the data plans and usage, the firm has clearly moved to protect its premium users from Jio's outreach.
As the deadline for Jio's free offers nears, expect more announcements and revisions from the incumbents. The joker in the pack? An extension of the free period by Jio to Jan 31st or beyond, a possibility that is looking increasingly unlikely, except perhaps for select new subscribers to specific plans.
Even non-Airtel customers with an Aadhaar card can open a Savings Account.
Airtel further claimed that it has been providing enough Points of Interconnection way before Jio's commercial launch and post that it started adding the PoIs at a staggering pace.
TRAI had imposed these fines on Airtel, Voda and Idea primarily following complaints from Jio.
TRAI on Oct 21 slapped heavy penalties on three telecom players - Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular - amounting to Rs 3,050 crore for not providing sufficient PoIs to Reliance Jio
In order to activate these IR packs, one can either visit Airtel's website, download MyAirtel app or use USSD and Customer Care to recharge.
With this expansion, Airtel is now showering its 4G services in 18 circles across India.
Similar to its other circles, Airtel has deployed its FD LTE technology in the 1800 Mhz band to roll out 4G services across Madhya Pradesh.
As per the offer, on a recharge of Rs 259, one will immediately get 1GB 4G/3G data and the remaining 9GB data can be availed through MyAirtel app.
Further, as a part of this initiative, Nokia will also expand the operator's 3G network in eight of the territories as part of this rollout and modernization of legacy 2G BTS.
The telecos, which are fighting a bitter war to retain customers, are now offering lucrative deals on iPhone 7 and 7 Plus to gain high end customers.